Product Disposition

A final topic of interest concerns the disposition of what the consumer has purchased. Most of the consumer behavior literature has ignored this subject. However, it is important from a public perspective as well as from a marketing management orientation to better understand how consumers make disposition decisions for a product.

Disposition alternatives and Determinants:

There are various alternatives for disposing of a product. In addition, the method of disposition may vary considerably across products. For example while bicycles tend to be given away, this is not true of phonograph records which are usually thrown away or stored. At present little is known about the factors that influence the disposition choice made by the consumer. The following categories of factors have been suggested however.

1) Psychological characteristics of the decision maker: personality, attitudes, emotions, perception, learning, creativity, intelligence, social class, level of risk tolerance peer pressure, social conscience and so on. Although consumer demographic variables have not proved to be very enlightening in understanding disposition behavior Lifestyle factors have proved to be moderately useful.

2) Factors intrinsic to the product condition age, size, style, value color, power source of the product, technological innovations adaptability, reliability, durability initial post, replacement cost, and so on.

3) Situational factors extrinsic to the product finances storage space, urgency, fashion changes, circumstances of acquisition (gift versus purchase) functional use, economics (demand and supply) legal, considerations (giving to avoid taxes) and so on.

Disposal of products often occurs in connection with the changing roles of consumers. As role transition occurs, consumers may dispose of their possessions in order to facilitate or validate both role and status changes thus enhancing and solidifying their new self concepts and social role identities. Some of the role transitions consumers may encounter are: leaving parents, graduating taking a job, marrying, having children, moving, divorcing, changing jobs, and retiring. These role transitions represent changes in the plays, parts, scripts and props in our lives; Disposal of products facilitates our movements to new plays, parts, scripts and props and allows us to enact new roles.

It has been suggested too that consumer product disposition is actually a process involving the steps of problem recognition search and evaluation disposition decision and post disposition outcomes.

It is interesting for the marketer to speculate using these reference frames on the various possibilities for consumer product disposition as in the following situation:

Consider a wristwatch which still runs but is no longer stylish. The consumer is faced with a first level decision; keep it, get rid of it permanently or get rid of it temporarily. Assume that he decides to keep it because of his thriftiness (psychological characteristics), he could have also decided to keep it because although it was not stylish it was still very reliable (product characteristics) are because he had no money for another one (situational factor). At some later time, the old watch is again brought to mind. He may decide to get rid of it permanently this time, because his status needs are no longer met by the watch (psychological characteristics) the band is worn (product characteristics) and /or he has too many old watches in his dresser drawer (situational factor). At the second level he may decide to give it away to a charitable institution so that he claims a tax deduction.

Marketing Implications:

The implications of the consumer product disposition process reflects on several areas of marketing. There are implications from a public policy perspective as well as from a strategy perspective.

The public policy effects of disposition are many. For example the effects of disposition choice on the environment include the long run effects of a throwaway lifestyle, the resources wasted when an item is discarded and the resource depleted when its replaced. Thus, study of the many problems of polluting and littering could be better addressed by considering consumer disposition.

Source: Consumer Behavior

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